Red-hot Terriers eager to begin NEC slate
After losing just once in its first six non-league games and surrendering only two goals during that torrid season-opening stretch, the St. Francis Brooklyn men’s soccer team is looking forward to beginning the most meaningful part of its campaign.
“We are very excited to start the conference games,” SFC head coach Tom Giovatto told the Brooklyn Eagle ths week as his club readied for Friday afternoon’s Northeast Conference opener against Central Connecticut State in New Britain.
“The boys are working hard and getting prepared,” Giovatto added. “We know every game is going to be tough.”
The Terriers (4-1-1) have been buoyed by one of the nation’s toughest defenses thus far this year, stifling opponents and getting brilliant goaltending from the netminding tandem of freshman sensation Callum James and senior stalwart Nicolas Casado.
James, who was named the NEC Rookie of the Week earlier this month, has yet to surrender a single goal over his first four starts, stretching over 335 minutes.
Casado is unbeaten in two starts, including a two-save effort in a 3-1 victory over the visiting Manhattan College Jaspers last Saturday under the lights at the Poly Prep Country Day School.
But it hasn’t been all about the back line for these Terriers, who are trying to reclaim their place atop the NEC and return to the NCAA Tournament for the fifth time in the last eight years.
Freshman forward Khaled Abdella, a graduate of Bay Ridge’s Fort Hamilton High School, was named NEC Co-Rookie of the Week on Monday after scoring the Terriers’ lone goal in a 1-0 blanking of Howard University in the 80th minute on Sept. 17.
Abdella added what proved to be the game-winner against Manhattan on Saturday, scoring around the opening tally by junior defender Youann Assoumin and the capper from second-year forward El-Mahdi Youssoufi.
The Terriers outscored their non-conference foes by a dominating 8-2 count, and suffered their only defeat in a heartbreaking 1-0 setback to Saint Peter’s in Jersey City, N.J., back on Sept. 14.
Giovatto’s squad has also gone undefeated in four home matches, including a 2-0-1 mark at Brooklyn Bridge Park.
But none of that out of league success will mean much without a conference crown later this fall.
The Terriers had won back-to-back NEC titles and four of the previous six before failing to even reach the league tournament last year.
Beginning Friday afternoon in Connecticut, SFC will truly begin its quest to reclaim that title.
“We are ready for the challenge of the conference season,” Giovatto said.
The SFC women’s soccer squad made its first-ever foray into NEC play last Sunday afternoon, dropping a 2-0 decision at Brooklyn Bridge Park to remain winless during this historic inaugural campaign.
Playing their first home match since Aug. 30, the first-year Terriers (0-8, 0-1 NEC) mustered only three shots against Wagner goalie Erin Kelly while surrendering goals to Isabella Manzella in the 39th minute and Mya Donnelly just before the final whistle.
Head coach Justine Lombardi’s team had been blanked in its first six games before nearly pulling out a momentous victory in a 3-2 loss at Iona on Sept. 18 that featured the first two goals in program history.
Freshman Henrietta Lykke went down as the first-ever SFC woman to score in a collegiate contest against the Gaels and fellow first-year player Maya Madjercic added the second tally off an assist from Lykke.
The Terriers will get another shot at their first victory against the Sharks of Long Island University at BPP on Friday afternoon.
In other local college sports news, SFC Brooklyn Director of Sports Medicine Andrew Cornicello announced that Anna Kwong has joined the Terriers’ Sports Medicine staff as an assistant athletic trainer.
Kwong is responsible for assisting the prevention, evaluation, treatment, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries and related illnesses for the departments’ approximately 300 student-athletes.
She will work as St. Francis’ primary athletic trainer for men’s and women’s water polo.
Kwong will also assist with the daily operation of St. Francis’ Sports Medicine department and the health and wellness of 21 NCAA Division I programs.
“Anna comes to us from Stony Brook University, where she was the president of the Athletic Training Club,” Cornicello said.
“Stony Brook has a long history of producing some great athletic trainers. As president of the Athletic Training Club, she implemented some excellent programs there, and we will look to have her incorporate some of those practices here.”
Kwong, a recent graduate of Stony Brook, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in athletic training this past June, spent time as an athletic training student assistant at four institutions while she was pursuing her Bachelor’s degree during her undergraduate studies.
“It is great to be able to hire someone that went through the same program as I did. The staff at SBU holds her in high regards,” added Terriers’ Associate Athletic Trainer Lynson Willis.
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